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SUNY Potsdam dancers celebrate Performing Arts Center opening (VIDEO)


POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam’s first new academic building in decades was christened with a dance. Students mingled with community members in the lobby of the $55 million Performing Arts Center before launching into a choreographed “flash mob” to kick off the opening ceremony Wednesday.

Construction on the building began in 2010, after a decade of hoping and planning. It is still not quite complete. The main theater is missing its chairs, and there is a long list of finishing touches that must be made before classes start in the spring semester.

The center will house the Department of Theater and Dance.

“It’s an enormous opportunity,” said department chair Jay W. Pecora.

“It positions our students to participate in the 21st century,” he said.

The facility includes two theaters, a dance performance space, and a costume lab.

“This is a campus that has needed a performing arts center, and we were so happy to add it to our facilities,” said interim college President Dennis L. Hefner.

There are few level lines in the building, with plenty of slants and angles designed to echo the striations of the Adirondacks.

Lead architect Lorenzo Matti, of Pfeiffer Partners Architects, New York City, said he designed the building with the students in mind. He wished them well with their classes and the performances that are expected to fill the center for years to come.

“Let’s get on with the show,” he said. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

State legislators Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome praised the facility, calling it a symbol of SUNY Potsdam’s commitment to the arts.

“This is a gift from this wonderful community to you,” Ms. Russell said to the students. “We hope you enjoy it to the fullest.”

It took plenty of legal wrangling in the state Legislature to get the funding needed to make the 97,000-square-foot facility happen, and the college is hoping local legislators will go to bat again to secure the capital needed for future projects.

The funds for major construction projects at SUNY colleges are separate from campus’ day-to-day operating expenses, and the state’s six-year SUNY capital fund is about to expire. The college hopes Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will include a new five-year plan in his January 2014 budget.

SUNY Potsdam wants funding for three major projects: a child care center for the school’s early childhood education program, an addition to the student union, and rehearsal rooms for music ensembles.

“It’s time to invest again,” Mr. Hefner said.

The college is also looking for wealthy donors who want to adorn the Performing Arts Center, and many of the rooms within, with their names. Prices range from $10,000 for a dressing room to $5 million for the building itself.

The center is expected to be ready for classes by the time the spring semester starts on Jan. 20.

The community will have plenty of opportunities to check out the center, including a production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in March.

SUNY Potsdam students celebrate PAC opening
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